Saturday, 12 July 2014

A centenary

A few years ago, in the days when I had a little time to spare, I was researching my family tree, like everyone is doing now!  

I know where I come from on my mother's side - some very thin blue blood there as it can be traced back to William the Conqueror, with many seventh son of seventh son.  Mother had traced all this back in the 1960s, long before the internet and that was what I call true research. I have since verified everything on the internet she had written down and found it fascinating.

But back to my father's side of the family.  There was nothing there so I had to start from scratch.  I am sure like a lot of people, I regretted bitterly that I had not obtained more information from Father when he was alive, but I was just not interested in my ancestors when I was younger.  I managed to get back to my great, great grandfather, who was William Hill, an organ builder in Camden Town in London.  I 'googled' his name!!  Well anyone living in the UK will know that this is a very well known name for betting and gaming and I gave up at this point.  I couldn't get past betting shops and putting on a bet!!

I listen to the radio, BBC Radio 4, all the time and though I don't always listen to everything I do hear the odd word.  It is on at the moment as I write this and I am listening to it with half an ear. Well, about 2 years ago, it was a Wednesday afternoon and I was baking a cake, I can still remember this vividly, when I heard the man on the radio mention "William Hill, the great organ builder ......".  I nearly dropped the mixing bowl, but I did sit down and listen to the remainder of the programme.

So with renewed vigour I carried on my research and this is what I found and even better here is a photo of the great man.
Great, great grandfather William Hill
William Hill organs were installed in cathedrals in Peterborough, Worcester, Ely, and York Minster, Westminster Abbey, Kings College Cambridge, Birmingham Town Hall among others and for my Australian readers in the Town Halls of Sydney and Melbourne and St Andrews Cathedral in Sydney.

I contacted the local organists society  and was amazed to receive a torrent of information about him and discover that there is a William Hill organ in a local church, St Marys, Wellingborough.  My brother and I were invited to the church and had a personal recital on the organ and were shown around.  We discovered that William's grandson, Dr Arthur Hill, had walked into the church to discuss the installation of the organ, exactly 100 years before we were there!!

So that is where I am going tonight, the organ's installation Centenary recital by Thomas Trotter, organist at Birmingham Town Hall.


  1. Very interesting... I am sure you will enjoy tonight

    1. I hope so. I do actually enjoy organ music so long sit is not too heavy!

  2. I wonder why we are only interested in our roots later in life? I am trying to work out where a cousin/auntie/something sits in my family tree. It's nice that you can find out so much about one member of your family